Zidar, J., Weber, E. M., Ewaldsson, B. et al. 2019. Group and single housing of male mice: Collected experiences from research facilities in Sweden. Animals 9(12), 1010.
The mouse is the most commonly used mammal in scientific research, and housed in research facilities around the world. Mice are a social species, but when housing male mice together in a confined environment in the laboratory, aggression is often observed and can be problematic. Fighting or trying to avoid fighting can be stressful. Furthermore, fighting can lead to injuries which can sometimes be fatal. Mouse aggression is therefore a significant welfare problem and has implications on the 3Rs (Replacing, Reducing, and Refining animal use in scientific procedures and education). In this study, we used a survey and workshops to collect the experiences of animal technicians, veterinarians, and researchers at Swedish research animal facilities relating to mouse aggression and what methods of preventing aggression they practice. Both group housing and single-housing as a consequence of aggression was perceived as problematic and stressful for the animals. In line with current recommendations from the literature, participants perceived that aggression occurred less if mice were grouped with litter mates at an early age, that nesting material was transferred at cage cleaning, and disturbance was kept to a minimum. Experience from practice will play a valuable part in developing guidelines for group-housed male mice.